Test-tube success rivals natural birth

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ADVANCES IN test-tube baby treatment have boosted success rates for infertile couples to almost twice that achieved by natural conception.

Figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority show some clinics achieving live-birth rates of 30 to 40 per cent per attempt, compared with 20-25 per cent a month for sexual intercourse. The Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre in London achieved 41.8 per cent live births per embryo transferred to the womb.

The figures, released yesterday in the authority's annual Patients' Guide to IVF Clinics, show the overall success rate has risen again, as it has in every year for the past decade, to 21.8 per cent per embryo transfer. The authority said the guide was interim, because the figures have not been adjusted to take account of the types of patients treated.

The main factors that determine success are the age of the woman, the length of time the couple have been trying to have a family and the quality of the man's sperm.

nCannabis smoking can make it more difficult for couples to conceive, according to American researchers. A study of the effects of compounds found in marijuana on human sperm showed that they inhibit therelease of enzymes that enable the sperm to penetrate the egg, alter the swimming patterns of the sperm and prevent sperm from binding to the egg.